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Weekends With Alex Witt

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Israel 30, Susan Rice 21, Us 19, Benghazi 17, Alex Witt 11, David Petraeus 10, U.s. 9, America 9, Washington 8, Mike Viqueira 7, Romney 6, Clinton 5, Cia 5, Egypt 5, Alex 4, U.n. 4, Nbc 3, Obama Administration 3, John Mccain 3, Ashley 3,
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  MSNBC    Weekends With Alex Witt    News  News/Business.  
   Live news coverage. New.  

    November 17, 2012
    9:00 - 11:00am PST  

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petraeus benghazi hearing. hello everyone. it is high noon here in the east. almost 9:00 a.m. out west. breaking news. we begin with nbc's mike viqueira in washington. mike with a good day to you. i know you've just listened to a white house briefing on two big stories. let's talk about israel first. >> reporter: well you're right. we did hear from senior white house officials. aboard air force one the president on his way to southeast asia for a historic trip there. but these activities are really unfolding in israel and the gaza strip is dominating attention worldwide. the president spoke again with the israeli prime minister benjamin netanyahu. he has spoken with him each day before this crisis began to unfold. they talked about the iron dome program, the anti-rocket defense that is so far from what we can tell effectively protecting israel from those rocket strikes out of the gaza strip. the president has also spoken with the new egyptian president,
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mohammed mersi and turkish prime minister. they have relations with has mass according to the senior official they were encouraged to engage hamas to get them to stop the rocket strikes which the official characterized as the precipitating factor in this exchange of rocket fire from israel and hamas in the gaza strip. finally prospects for a ground offensive by israel into gau scat white house official would simply say "israel can make their own decisions about tactics and operations." >> okay, mike viqueira, thank you very much for that. from mike to tell awe vooef we head to nbc's martin fletcher. martin, what is the nature of the conflict on the ground there now for both sides? >> reporter: well, alex, as mike just said, what president obama said sound a little bit like a green light for israel to do whatever it takes necessary. what's happening right now is with the army here is doing all
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it takes to prepare for a ground invasion of gaza. but no order has been given. i'm pretty sure they don't want to give the order. the whole point of these strikes has been to stop the palestinian rocket fire into israel. it hasn't really worked. that's why a ground invasion is still an option. today just about an hour ago a rocket was fired here from gaza to tel aviv where i'm standing. there is a warning hamas still does have this capability. it's been a bitter day and ferocious day of fighting especially earlier on. there were 200 rocket -- air force attacks by israel on gaza just in the early hours of the morning. 200. and they targeted targets they have not aimed at before. this time they went into civilian buildings belonging to the hamas government, symbols of power if you like in gaza.
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they knocked out the prime minister's office there. his office was totally flattened. that was a building by the way where yesterday the palestinian leader was meeting the egyptian prime minister. that today doesn't exist anymore. the palestinian police headquarters knocked out. israel is going after these what they call symbols of power as an escalation to try to put more pressure on hamas to try to ward off the need for a ground invasion. but if that ground invasion is called for, israel does say it's fully ready. they've ordered up 16,000 reserve soldiers, the regular army is amassed on the border of gaza already. we saw that ourselves yesterday. so far the emergency security council cabinet here ordered up the full 75,000 reserve soldiers to be put on stand by for a possible ground invasion. so everything's set for that ground invasion. i do believe at the same time all the army is doing now is
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waiting for the order to go in if israel cannot stop those rockets in any other way. of course there is some diplomatic activity going on, too, in egypt in particular, trying to organize a truce. only a 48-hour truce between israel and hamas. so there's a positive moves ahead going on trying to end this diplomatically. but not everybody is betting on that right now, alex. >> sounds like all the pieces are on the chess board for sure. thank you very much, martin fletcher. >> let's get some perspective on this crisis. joining me is military analyst general mccaffrey. is there a danger this could turn into a larger middle east war? >> no question. i think we're one step shorter of an all out ground operation in the gaza. i don't see how the israelis could top rate continued threat to huge parts of the civilian population. and then in the background, of course, we have the iranians and hezbollah on the lebanese southern border. the israelis are quite
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vulnerable to these rocket strikes. fit went to all-out war there would be significant israeli losses. >> all right, general, would the u.s. get involved militarily if this does escalate? >> i don't think so. i think the iranians would be loathe to actually start firing their long-range missiles at israel. if they did that would be the ultimate red line and we would get engaged. my guess is they're going to cap this in one way or the other. clearly the provocation is coming out of hamas. and they are insensitive to their own civilian casualties. so it's a very tricky situation. but i think they back off at some point. >> you bring up iran. it has been suggested that hamas is triggering all of this back and forth try to divert attention to iran's nuclear program. does that make sense to you at all? >> yes. although i think there's a
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terrible malignancy in the gaza strip in the west bank and the hatreds that have been generated are literally multigenerational. that's independent. but i think the iranians have manipulated particularly hezbollah but also hamas. they've equipped them with significant amounts of rocketry. one of the unclassified figures was 120,000 rockets in either southern lebanon or gaza in the range of israel. so the iranians are actively promoting trouble in syria and lebanon and gaza strip. >> general, all the money that we've invested in egypt as they go to the table, are they representing the american voice there appropriately? >> no. i think there's a great problem right now. mersi is trying to sort out where does he come down on all this? one could argue that mubarek and
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the military dictatorship were the only ones in egypt who supported continued peace with the israelis. they didn't want the egyptian army in the sinai, didn't want a ground war with israel. this has been good for both countries. but mersi and the brotherhood when they came into office had no such commitment. if he looks at his own electorate, there's widespread feeling among the egyptians that doesn't support the treaty. this is bad news. somehow our diplomacy, secretary clinton and the president, this is i think one of their primary purposes. how do we substitute diplomacy for war? >> general, sit tight. we'll have you come back with your thoughts on the petraeus scandal in just a moment. first back to washington with new comments from the white house on general david petraeus's benghazi testimony. nbc's mike viqueira is joining me live again. mike what did you hear. >> reporter: this is fallout from the testimony we heard -- we didn't hear from it but the testimony that david petraeus of
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course who resigned as the director of cia last week amid the sex scandal. he gave testimony behind closed doors to both the house and senate intelligence committees yesterday. afterwards members intimated that petraeus after the attacks in benghazi that resulted in the deaths of four including the ambassador, there were terrorist elements involved, this was some sort of coordinated attack. the question has become what changed. did the white house or the state department go in and change those assessments, make them more palatable, de-emphasize the terrorist nature of that. today a senior official aboard air force one said absolutely not. basically they said it's only natural that in the days after the attack the intel committee would quote sort through different pieces of intelligence. the official asserts those adjustments made by the intel community to assessments and talking points are quote unquote common and the quote unquote
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natural progression as the situation unfolded more information became out. the white house said twice they were very clear on this the only edits that were made to intelligence assessments was to correct one word, and that is a reference to the benghazi facility as a quote unquote consul ate. he said it's not formally a consulate. that is the limit to the editions they made to the intelligence assessment. >> general, we have the gop still suggesting that the obama administration concealed the fact benghazi was a terror attack for political reasons. from what we have learned from general petraeus's testimony, doesn't it seem the administration held back information, if they did so it was because a genuine national security concern existed? >> well, you know, my take on this, alex, this is centralist political posturing inside washington. the problem was we had inadequate ground security
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there. that's a state department function, not cia. when the thing went bad we had this am bass do, bilingual in arabic, he shouldn't have been there. that was the problem. but -- characterized the mob was minutiae for good next sakes. libya is a mess. there's no government, no army. it's not a success. probably better than having that monster gadhafi and his family in charge of it. but that's the problem. they have to get their eyesight up. we've got a war in afghanistan going that's running us $6 billion a month and several hundred killed and wounded a month. and here we're focused on this tragedy of four americans killed in a very risky situation. they probably shouldn't have been out there. that's really the finding. >> how about this? might the bigger story be the
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u.s. needs to provide more protection for these diplomats in places like libya? >> absolutely. part of that was a function of budget, for god's sakes. we've got these global embassies and consulates and presidents overseas. if you can't protect them we ought to tell the swiss to represent their interests or somebody else. the brits are smart enough to pull their ambassador out and close down the operation. if we wanted to stay in there we should have put 100 marines at the embassy and a bunch of jsoc operatives out in the outer reaches. we didn't do it. i'm sure some of it was just resources being jug eld in the state department for their own security. >> all right, general barry mccaffrey, thank you very much. as we look outside it is shaping up to be a nice day in new york city. it's sunny, mild, i guess we have nbc meteorologist dylan dryer to thank for that. is this going to last for
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thursday? >> i think it is. i also appreciate the credit i get for the nice weather. that's awesome. we are going to see pretty decent november weather. a little chilly across the northeast. we can handle 40s and 50s. we do have our warmest air in the middle of the country. they are going to enjoy pretty nice temperatures throughout the day today with highs topping out in the 60s. it's all about the west coast, though. that's the only area we are seeing really heavy rain is moving through california, up into oregon, also up into portions of washington state. we're looking at about 5 inches of rain from now all the way through tuesday. we're also looking at measuring feet of snow through the mountains. so obviously the ski resorts out west will be enjoying this storm system. but it is going to bring perhaps some flooding rains to portions of the pacific northwest coast right down into california. so for your saturday, the eastern half of the country enjoying a whole lot of sunshine. for sunday kind of a repeat of today. we are going to see more showers and storms and gusty winds develop off the coast of the carolinas, the outer banks, just
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because of a storm system out that way. and again the rain will continue on the west coast from now all the way through at least next tuesday. it could even last that way through the upcoming holiday. alex? >> i'm just texting my friends in mammoth saying dylan says snow is coming your way. let's make a deal, everybody. will we get a fiscal cliff agreement and will it include the president's wish for tax hikes on the rich. plus a reality check on climate change. an author shows meet pictures that convinced him once and for all it is real. here on "weekends with alex witt." ♪ if it wasn't for you ♪ don't know what i'd do ♪ i'd have nothing to prove ♪ i'd have nothing to lose ♪ i'd be all lost at sea ♪ with no reason to make it through ♪ [ male announcer ] introducing the celebration diamond collection.
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seattle times has an article about general petraeus's testimony on capitol hill. "cia linked al qaeda to attack." los angeles times" surgical tourism, hip and knee replacements going to a number of hospitals across the country. they agreed to a low fixed rate of surgery and scored high on quality of care. oregonian has the headline "twinkie fans never say die." hostess going out of business. more on this as well later. to front page politics now, new signs of potential breakthrough to avoid the fiscal cliff. congressmen met with president obama on friday. they are hoping to avoid automatic tax increases and massive spending cuts. >> while we're going to continue to have revenue on the table, it's going to be incumbent for my colleagues to show the american people that we're serious about cutting spending
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and solving our fiscal problems. >> we have to make sure taxes don't go up on middle class families, our economy is remaining stropg, we're creating jobs. that's the agenda that democrats and republicans and independents, people all across the country, share. >> joining me now for discussion on that and more, "new york times" reporter ashley parker and political columnist for the "washington post," dana mill bank. welcome to both of you. dana i'll begin with you here. what is your sense? are we going to get a fiscal cliff deal? will it include the president's wish for tax hikes on the rush and the gop wish for caps on tax deductions or is that like the $64 million question? >> well, right. anytime you try to make a prediction of exactly what will happen you'll probably wine up being embarrassed here. but what's pretty clear they have now set up the rigging on the fiscal cliff so they can safely rappel downward. there is an obvious way to do
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this. both side know they need to give in so the only reason we would have this debacle at the end of the year now is if they simply chose not to. so it does put up in a good position. but these things can deteriorate very quickly here in washington. to see harry reid and mitch mcconnell and john boehner actually standing together there in the driveway is a very rare feat. and i'm not going to get out there and say happy days are here again. >> okay. what i do want to ask you about, dana, this confederacy of takers article you wrote about how president obama's opponents have come up with a way to avoid the fiscal cliff. there's a large number of patriotic americans mostly from states won by mitt romney who have petitioned the white house to let hem secede. you're saying let them for one big reason. >> well, yes. i'd hate to lose these states because our country has 50 states for a good reason and we like our fellow americans. but strictly as a budgetary matter, if you look at the states that supported mitt rom if i, a lot of those states that want out of the union whether in
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the south, some in the plains and the mountain states, these are the ones that take far more in federal spending than they give tax dollars. so if you similply lop them off the union we would have a far more prosperous nation. but we'd have other problems. >> ashley, let's talk about what you've been reporting on which is mitt romney's gift remarks. here's a bit of what the defeated gop candidate said. here it is. >> what the president's campaign did was focus on certain members of his base coalition, give them extraordinary financial gifts from the government, and then work very aggressively to turn them out to vote." >> okay. so first off, how did we learn about these remarks? did mr. romney think they would get out? once again he's talking to a group of donors and supporters and something gets out. >> exactly. you know, it was a private call.
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he had every reason to believe it would remain private. but it was a call with donors, a call with about 400 donors. he's had sort of bad experiences in the past. so i imagine in the back of his mind it either was or should have been the idea that he wants this to be private but what he says could very quickly become public. >> you know, ashley, nefsht gop seems to be running faster than you're saying bolt away from romney and the remnants of his campaign. why did he feel the need to make more of the 47%-like comments? any idea? >> well again, some of his aides i talked to them afterward and they're frustrated with this idea, they said it's sort of typical romney. they admit that "gifts" was sort of a wrong word to use. he was being a little awkward and ineloquent. but he's speaking to a bunch of donors who in a way are like investors who have gotten what they believe is a pretty poor return on their investment. they invested in this candidate and he didn't win. so he was sort of struggling and trying justify what went wrong. he was saying one of the things
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is the president targeted specific interest groups. i think he probably said it in a way he regrets but that's what he was trying to explain to his donors. >> dana you wrote also earlier that republicans are going through the five stages of grieving. where do these gift comments fall in that? >> well, i mean, there are indeed gifts here. those are the things that mitt romney has been giving to the journalistic profession. and when ashley broke this story we got yet another gift from him in retirement. we can only hope that he finds ways to keep doing this. but clearly they are still in a stage of denial. i mean, some of them have moved on to sort of anger. you can see some bargaining going on in the white house driveway. i don't see anybody reaching acceptance yet and saying here's what the results of the election were. let's live with it. they still want to blame it on all kinds of other things other than the people weren't buying what we were selling. >> you know, ashley, i want to ask you since you covered the romney camp, were these comments a surprise at this point or were they just as you'd expect?
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>> you know, i think governor romney did obviously not quite mean them the way they've been sort of -- they've gone viral. in a way they're expected because covering governor romney, his press corps became accustomed to his gaffes and he could not quite say exactly what he meant or he would maybe be a little too honest behind closed doors. in that sense we've experienced a lot of these gaffes. i don't think he was sort of saying what is being so cynically interpreted as the president was using policy for politics. i think he's a data-driven guy. he was really struggling to explain why he lost and saying look, this is one of the reasons. >> okay, ashley parker, dana milbank, good to see you both. thank you. the new movie that shows the extreme way the planet is changing. you're going hear from the director coming up. you're watching "weekends with alex witt." stay with us. [ male announcer ] when it comes to the financial obstacles
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tech watch on "weekends with alex witt." americans are texting less at least by using their cell phone. the new report shows the average american sent 668 text a month during the previous quarter. experts say more americans are probably using facebook and other web-based messaging services instead. now to today's number one o hho no. hostess is going out of business. apple stocks may be dropping but doing gangbuster business. apple stores are twice as profitable by foot as number two ranked tiffany. great expectations for the "twilight" saga. projections are the last
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welcome back to "weekends with alex witt." at the half hour, strategy talk and the tug-of-war over benghazi. david petraeus appeared before congress yesterday in a closed door meeting on the attack. following the hearing representative peter king questioned petraeus's statements while senator diane feinstein defendeded u.n. ambassador susan rice. >> he made it clear that there was significant terrorist involvement. that is not my recollection of what he told us september 14th. >> to say that she is unqualified to be secretary of state i think is a mistake. and the way it keeps going, it's almost as if the intent is to assess nate -- >> joining me now is karen finny a political analyst and armstrong williams a conservative columnist and host of the right side with armstrong williams. hello to you both. good to see you. >> hi, alex.
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>> ladies first with you, karen. you just heard from congressman king. one of his biggest complaints was the white house held back information that this was a terrorist attack claiming this was classified. this is different from the white house's initial defense that they did call it a terrorist attack right away. are they changing their tune? >> well, what i find interesting is the way congressman king and a number of the other republicans have changed their tune from the night before the briefing and oh, what a difference it makes when you actually a, show up to the briefing and listen to the information. because what we now know and what's been reported out is there was information coming in at the time. there were a collection of our intelligence agencies that got together to try to determine what is it that we can say publicly right now. that decision was made again by a group of our intelligence organizations. susan rice then went out and reflected that information. she did caveat it. but then we know that as more information became available, again they shared more information. to initially call that a lie from the president or u.n.
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ambassador is disgusting. and it does make it seem that the only goal here is to politicize this and to attack susan rice. not to actually get to the bottom of the truth. >> you know, it kind of sounds like the gop went in, those that were privileged to listen to this hearing, they went in expecting one kind of testimony from david petraeus. he didn't give them what they wanted to hear so now they're talking his testimony. >> well listen, david petraeus is someone who's certainly an american hero. and he has a lot of friends and allies with the gop. obviously general petraeus contradicted himself. but i mean, i don't think that is an outrage. >> you can't say he couldn't diktd himself. you were not in the briefing. >> i did not interrupt you, please. obviously that was a contradictions. obviously it's understandable. you don't always have the information. all the information is unfolding. they watched the real time from the drone. they knew exactly this was possibly a terrorist attack. obviously for the interests of at least saying something and putting a story out there, they agree that it may have been linked to the video.
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that may have been -- the case may have changed later on. but obviously when you're involved in the level that general petraeus involved and the white house and these stories are developing, obviously i don't think it was the intent of the general to desooechlt he correct himself as he did over his testimony over the last 48 hours. >> hang on, armstrong. ant you echoing the sentiments from the white house from the get-go saying this was a developing story? you keep using the word "developing" as we got the information that's what we went with. >> karen, obviously it was a developing story. >> it was alex. >> i absolutely agree with what you're saying. it was a developing story. sometimes you can get it wrong because there are a lot of things you don't realize. obviously it was a tragedy that the ambassador and four other people in that embassy were killed. obviously you want to lay blame. the republicans, even the democrats, people should not be so quick to lay judgment and blame. it is a point where something like that in our country is unfolding we need to unify as a
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nation not become divisive. >> one other sort of point here on the policy side that i think is very important. some of the things that we now know that we did not know then thanks to darrel issa and jason chafits who decided to out the fact there was a covert cia operation taking place on the ground. remember, we had not been and had assets on the ground in libya in a very long time because of gadhafi. so we had a covert cia operation on the ground. part of the reason, i don't know this for a fact, but having worked in the white house, part of the reason they may have initially gone with one part of the story and not told us the other part of the story, we may have still had cia assets there in country on the ground that by divulging more information could have endangered their lives. and instead what happened was, because there was this rush to judgment, because there was this terribly irresponsible behavior on the part of the republicans, what else happened? the names of libyans who were actually working with us were leaked. those lives have now been endangered because of these political games.
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>> do you think, armstrong, that the republicans should back off on this? i mean, because you had senator john mccain who's calling for special counsel to look into it. >> you know, it's really actually it's really -- it's sad. because obviously president obama won the election. he won it four years ago when he defeated mr. mccain. obviously it's the will of the people. and you know, if you study history and especially war history, you can see how stories change and intelligence gathering, how it works. it has a whole different science and meaning all on its own many you've got to allow these people to make statements, comment back and adjust these statements, then you do jeopardize lives. there are so many things at stake. we're living in a society now where we want to know so much, we want to know it now and be the first to report it. and intelligence especially that just doesn't work that way. they were wrong to criticize. they should take a step back and wait until all the information actually comes out and then come to a position. >> karen, i do want to ask you about the susan rice angle here.
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because in wednesday's press conference the president really gave a full defense of her. is she worth the political fight that will surely ensue if she becomes the nominee for secretary of state? >> absolutely. i mean, the president -- i mean, look. on a number of fronts. number one, the president and susan rice -- i've actually known susan rice since my time in the clinton administration -- she is a stellar human being. she has served this country honorably and to the best of her abilities, always putting the interests of this country first. the president knows that. but number two, to let the republicans bully this president on something like this, he can't let that happen. and number three, politically speaking, this is what i would like the republicans to think about. and frankly, i'm perfectly comfortable if they want to have this fight. they just went through an election where they lost young people, they lost women, they lost african-americans. do you really want to take on the president of the united states over a woman who is credible, who essentially has served this country who is a young, african-american woman with the specter of that with those while men asking her
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questions, questioning her integrity when we know that what she did was exactly what was needed to be done, we have the intelligence information now backing her up. if they want to have that fight i'm sure the president would be more than happy to have that fight. and you know what, it will only help increase his approval ratings in this country. because americans know that what the republicans are doing is playing games. >> if i could add to that. >> sure. >> listen. here's what i don't understand, karen. why are we blaming susan rice in the first place? >> good question. >> susan rice is the u.n. ambassador. hillary clinton is the secretary of state. why is she so protected in this criticism? the blame should lie squarely at her feet. obviously susan rice was doing based on the intelligence information that was given to her and she based it on that. the president was right. if you want to blame someone and attack someone attack the president. but why is hillary clinton not being blamed for any of this? i don't understand. >> well, i think again secretary clinton did come out several days after herself and say hey
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here's the blame they take. here's what we now know. here's what i know i was responsible. then the president obviously as you recall in that last debate said look, it's not susan. it's not hillary. it's me. i'm the president. the buck stops with me. so i agree with you that what i want to see these guys on the hill doing, if john mccain wants a fight he should have the guts to stand up and challenge the president. but don't go after susan rice. that was the point the president was making. >> listen, guys, that's going to have to be a wrap right there. good to see you both. >> thanks. in today's office politics my conversation with former nor governor george pitaki about the lessons he learned from two former presidents. plus common sense is his key to compromise. first i asked the governor to assess the gop losses in last week's election. >> well, my party got clobbered. and to me it's pretty simple. we stopped being a party of ideas. and now in the aftermatthew have all these experts saying we have to go more to our base and be more conservative. we have to go to the middle and be more moderate.
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we have to reach out to latinos. we have to reach out to single women. that is a failed philosophy in my view. we have to come up with ideas that are right for america. i mean, dealing with immigration reform isn't because we have to all of a sudden reach out to latinos. it's because it's right for our country. being concerned about carbon emissions and how we are changing the climate and the consequences of climate change isn't something where we're trying to reach out to young people or single women. it's what's right for our country. so what we need to do is again be a party of ideas. first you win the battle of ideas. then you win people's votes. and for the last decade or more, my party has been focusing on targeting voters as opposed to coming up with solutions. >> if someone were to say, governor george pitaki belongs to the party of common sense, what would you say to that? >> i think the american people belong to the party of common sense. when a party loses its connection to common sense, it
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loses elections. i'm proud to be a common sense guy. i guess it comes from living in the real world as opposed to washington. >> it's come out that mitt romney is offering what could be perceived as an explanation for his loss. and that is something an excuse for it. >> whenever you try to make excuses, whenever you point a finger at someone else, it's really a failure of leadership. when you are a leader, it's your job to succeed. and it doesn't matter if the odds are fair, if the hill is steep to climb, if it's a very difficult challenge. your job is to do everything you can to try to succeed. and if for some reason you don't, and the deck is not always stacked fairly, and i do believe there is enormous media bias, those are the rules we play under. and the goal is to win, anyway, and not to make excuses. >> before i let you go, i do see both teddy roosevelt and abe lincoln represented in great
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stead here. >> right. >> talk about what these two men mean to you. >> one governed at a time of enormous -- the greatest crisis since the creation of this country we ever faced and had the moral courage and the political conviction to stick to the idea that when you talk about all men are created equal, it means everybody. and that to me is something that means a great deal as we look forward. and teddy roosevelt governed -- people don't realize the crisis we faced then. but we had enormous wealth. and we had peep, largely immigrants, working in factories under horrible, horrible conditions or coal mines that just we didn't have the balance that was later achieved. and teddy roosevelt, as a republican, was the one to say, we're going to stand up to these trusts. we're going to stand up to these great possessors of wealth and create not government-run system but government rules that create a fair system.
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and he changed this country. and i believe the right way. back at the turn of the last century. >> are you going to see the movie "lincoln"? >> i will seat movie "lincoln." i love history. i think it's just a great way to learn about the future. >> that maybe on the governor's agenda. but right now he's attending the harvard-yale game. he is a yaly. i should let you all know that yale is up 3-0 in cambridge. tomorrow at this time the governor discusses the future of the republican party and i'll press him on whether he's got another campaign in him ahead. has the cia lost sight of its original mission? next the author of a new article tells me why he thinks the agency has strayed from its most critical assignment. some coordinating. and a trip to the one place with the new ideas that help us pull it all together. from the things that hang and shine... ...to the things that sparkle and jingle. all while saving the things that go in our wallet. more saving.
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agency that has perhaps lost sight of its original mission. joining me now is a fellow at the nation institute and author of "blackwater the rise of the world's most powerful mers nace armyings. >> what we've seen under the obama administration is a real move away from what they call human intelligence collection on the ground. and away from trying to put prisoners in places like guantanemo or in secret cia black sites. basically the whole policy has just become a killing machine, a paramilitarized approach to counterterrorism. the career of david petraeus, particularly over the past ten years, really puts a fine point on that. petraeus was a key figure next banding u.s. war zones to countries like yemen and somalia. when he became the director of the cia you saw the real increase in number of drone strikes outside of afghanistan and pakistan and into more of these countries. >> is the down side of that? if you are using technology can that serve as well as the human
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intelligence? >> right. what i'm hearing from intelligence professionals is in a place like yemen, i've been there several times, when you do a drone strike and you kill people that have nothing to do with terrorism and you kill innocent civilians you're actually creating more enemies than you're taking off the battle field. it potential could have blow back on you. but also the key to peace in any of these regions is not going to be through a militarized solution. it's going to be through actual intelligence, understanding how the other side thinks. that generally has been the business of the cia. but there's a derth of intelligence right now in many countries where wars are flaring up. >> the way we are fighting wars, the locations in which we are fighting wars, isn't this just a natural evolution? when you look at the front lines, oh, wait a minute in a lot of places there aren't really front lines anymore. sort of disparate areas and you have to pull it all together and that's what you're fighting. >> in a country like yemen, al qaeda and the peninsula probably
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has around 1,000 members and may have the potential to bring down a u.s. airliner which would be atrocious, they don't represent an existential threat. the question we have to ask is, is our response making the problem we claim to be fighting worse. that's what i've seen in somalia and yemen and elsewhere i've been the past year. >> okay. let's talk about budgets. we note cia's operating budget is classified. murky at least on those details. >> right. >> but might all of this evolution come as a result of budget issues which we know are present everywhere in the government, why not there as well? >> it's an interesting question. i mean, the drones are a relatively cheap form of technology. i think that's one of the reasons why they're so attractive. the other part of this, though, this may sound cynical, my sense of what happens on capitol hill is that when general petraeus would go before congress as the director of cia or admiral mcraven, the commander of the special operations command, congress members say how do we measure progress? in their eyes, body counts does the on. how many al qaeda figures have been killed. the president made it a center
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piece of his national security campaign running against romney. how many times at the convention did they say osama bin laden is dead. the president would say if anyone doults my resolve ask the 23 al qaeda members killed. we're operating on fear. congress is asleep at the wheel saying we're winning the war orr on terror. we may be creating more people with inspiration to commit acts of terrorism in countries americans haven't heard of. >> thank you so much. appreciate your time. tackling climate change. you didn't hear about it on the campaign trail but president obama talked about it in his first post-victory news conference. >> i am a firm believer that climate change is real, that it is impacted by human behavior and carbon emissions. and as of consequence i think we've got an obligation to future generations to do something about it. >> in a minute, one man who's seen it first hand. here are some of his pictures. the twist, he didn't believe it
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hurricane sandy is only the latest in what have become all too frequent occurrences of extreme weather. the new documentary "chasing ice "follows a photographer and his team as they record the impact of our warming planet. >> it all started in iceland. >> think i'm so certain to get wet i'll take my boots off. >> i never imagined that you could see glaciers this big disappearing in such a short time. there's a powerful piece of history that's unfolding in these pictures, and i have to go back. >> joining me now is james balogg, photographer and environmentalist and author of the newly released "ice, portraits of vanishing glaciers." welcome to you, james, i tell you the pictures are remarkable. what got you involved in this? >> i've been fascinated by mountains in polar regions my whole life. but what really kicked it off for me was the realization back
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in the 90s that climate change was real and it was a product of actual physical empire cal evidence that thousands of people had collected from all around the world for many years. and it's not hypothetical. it's not about computer models. it is right here right now. but you're saying now but you did not say that before you actually went to this place, correct? and sort of chronic elling these with your pictures. you were skeptical yps. >> imfact it was before i went out in the field they needed to really get myself educated which was to realize that there had been a huge amount of empirical evidence connected or collected, sorry, from antarctica and greenland, and that people had really touched the actual record preserved in the ice of how the climate was changing. and then when i went to iceland for the first time in 2005 and i saw how much those glaciers had retreated it was really kind of
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mind boggling. that's what set us off on the path that leads to us here today. >> we're looking at these pictures. we'll explain to people what they're saying. this glacier in iceland. you first saw it in 2006. three years later, which is not all that long when you look at the length of time this planet has been around, a heartbeat, look at what happened. there's the before. there's the after. three years? that's all that took? >> yes. it's actually quite -- it's incredibly mind boggling. over and over again when we open up the backs of our time lapse cameras and we download this pictorial record that we have, it astounds us to recognize how much has disappeared in these very short periods of time. and this is the tangible, three dimensional manifestation of climate change. it's happening right in front of our eyes. >> irreversible, james, or not? >> i think it's absolutely reversible. we have the economic capacity to deal with this. we certainly have a lot of really bright men and women all
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around this country and around the world who know what the engineering and technical solutions are. and we know what the governmental solutions are, the public policy solutions are. so we can deal with this. we just have to muster the political will and the will of the general public to understand that this is real and it has to be dealt with. >> all right. well, beautiful and sobering pictures for which we thank you, james balogg there, author or the newly released "ice, portraits of vanishing glaciers." thanks for your time. >> thank you. the fighting escalates in the middle east. will there be a ground war in gaza? i'll speak with the spokesman for israel's prime minister next. heir work, their name on the door, and their heart into their community. small business saturday is a day to show our support. a day to shop at stores owned by our friends and neighbors. and do our part for the businesses
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liberty mutual insurance. responsibility -- what's your policy? when you take a closer look... ...at the best schools in the world... ...you see they all have something very interesting in common. they have teachers... ...with a deeper knowledge of their subjects. as a result, their students achieve at a higher level. let's develop more stars in education. let's invest in our teachers... ...so they can inspire our students. let's solve this. good day to all of you. welcome to "weekends with alex witt." it's 1:00 in the east, 10:00 a.m. out west. what's happening out there we have breaking news as the escalating and deadly crisis in the middle east has entered its fourth day. air raid sirens blared as hamas
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forces fired two rockets into tel aviv late this morning. israel intercepted one missile mid-air. the other landed in an open area. overnight israeli forces struck the prime minister's office in gaza. meanwhile israeli troops and tanks are gathering neither border. they're preparing for a possible ground assault. the military is ready to mobilize more than 100,000 reservist troops in addition to its normal force. and we have brand-new video from cairo where the arab league is holding emergency meetings on the crisis. also today the white house urged diplomacy and a deescalation in the violence. let's get right to it on the ground and inside gaza where rockets are flying overhead. nbc's news correspondent is there for us live. let's get to what's happening right up now around you. >> reporter: well let's start off here with the situation in gaza. right now it is really quiet behind me. the streets of gaza are really empty. most people this time of night go to their homes. the streets are pretty much quiet. people here really bracing themselves for what the night usually brings.
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what we've seen over the course of the last several nights is an intense aerial campaign by the israeli forces. as you mentioned yesterday, the palestinian prime minister's office was destroyed. these air strikes will be intensifying in the coming hours. that's been the pattern. there's also been palestinian rocket fire coming out of gaza into southern israel. the fear that grips the people here is one that can't be described. people here extremely nervous, extremely anxious about the conditions. you mentioned there were sirens going off in israel. there are no sirens that go off here in gaza. people very much feel a sense of anxiety waiting for that next possible israeli air strike. there was in the last hour or so an air strike that took place in the central part of gaza, according to a spokesperson for hamas. earlier today, a residential building in the northern part of the gaza strip was levelled by an israeli air strike. 35 people in that building believed to have been trapped but no casualties as a result of that air strike. one of the problems that we've
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been talking about, and one of the fierce that many palestinians describe for us, is the fact that gaza is so densely populated. israel may be trying to carry out precision strikes and targeting specific buildings or vehicles, but the way gaza is when you carry out a strike of that magnitude it is bound to have civilian consequences and damage to the civilian infrastructure here. that's also the growing concern if indeed a ground invasion happens with thousands of israeli soldiers possibly going into gaza it would lead to your ban warfare. that type of urban warfare would undoubtedly have civilian consequences as we've seen time and time again. palestinian officials have been telling us the death toll of the operations, israeli air strikes, so far has topped 40 people. eight children, two women. hamas has claimed in the last 24 hours four of its fighters were killed by an israeli air strike. so there's no doubt there's a great sense of tension and fear among the people of gaza. there are diplomatic efforts under way in egypt to try to put a 48-hour period cessation of
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hostilities but there's still no confirmation that has gone into effect. >> thank you for that comprehensive wrap-up. we appreciate that. just a short while ago the white house held a briefing on the crisis in the middle east in the ongoing benghazi investigation. mike viqueira, what is the administration saying about israel and gaza? >> reporter: senior administration officials were briefing high? the sky about north atlantic, president going to southeast asia for a historic visit, the first u.s. president to visit burma. but the focus on the middle east and this rising conflict four days old between israel and hamas in the gaza strip. the president spoke with israeli prime minister benjamin netanyahu as the white house says he has done each of the last four days. they've talked about the so-called iron dome rocket defense system that is deployed in israel that has in fact intercepted many of these rockets that have been fired from the gaza strip towards israel. a weapons program that has been
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developed with the help and funds from the united states. they talked about the need to deescalate the situation there. and the white house spokesman laying the blame for instigating this crisis squarely at the feet of hamas, which the u.s. government considers and classifies as a terrorist organization, calling the missile fire, the rocket fire from the gaza strip the precipitating factor here. the president also speaking with the turkish leader and with mohammad morsi from the muslim brotherhood, the newly installed president of egypt, asking them to reach out to hamas, to engage them, to try to work on some sort of truce. and one final thing, alex, the u.s. official says the israelis, if there is to be an israeli ground offensive, possible israeli ground offensive in gaza "israel can make their own decisions about tactics and operations." alex. >> from there to what did the white house say about the benghazi investigation? >> reporter: well, this is all springing from david petraeus, of course the former now dci, director of central intelligence. his closed door testimony in
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that subterranean secure room in the east front of the capitol where he evidently told members of congress his initial assessment was after the september 11th attacks in benghazi there was a terrorist element. the question becomes did the white house get to that and edit that assessment? they said absolutely not. they said it's only natural in days after the attack the intel community would sort through different pieces of intelligence. they call that common, a natural progression as they put it. they said that the only thing that the white house edited in terms of that assessment, that intelligence assessment, was one word. the facility in benghazi was not quote unquote a consulate, not formally a consulate. that is the only word they changed, they said. they said that with regard to susan rice, the u.n. ambassador's controversial comments on sunday talk shows just five days after those september 11th attacks, she was informed by unclassified talking points provided by the intel community. so a very comprehensive defense
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of the administration and susan rice today from the white house. >> not surprisingly. okay. thank you very much, mike viqueira. so we turn back to the crisis in israel and gaza and the fresh rocket fire there. both sides are coming out from the rubble hundreds of rocket launches these past few days. joining me now the israeli spokesperson for the prime minister. let's talk about what happened late this morning from the white house who said israel has not requested military involvement, and the white house opposes anyone splice ar anyone supplying arms to hamas. are there any blueprints for a u.s. role in this conflict? >> i think we're looking more for american diplomatic support, and we've received that so far and we're very grateful. sometimes the arab block at the united nations have a lot of votes. that can be used against us. and america helps balance that out. the important thing and i think why america is so strongly behind us on this, this is
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clearly a case of self-defense. i mean, until we took action that we did, we had a situation where the population of southern israel, civilian population, was on the receiving end of missile after missile coming from the gaza strip from hamas. and this wasn't going on for days, this was going on for weeks and even months. it had to stop. there's no reason why israel's civilians should have to live in bomb shelters. >> is a ground invasion imminent, mark? or do you expect that will be avoided? >> listen, i unfortunately and you understand this, alex, cannot go into what military operations we might or might not do, because those have to be confidential. you have to have an element of surprise. you have to keep your opponent guessing. but it's important to remember that our operation is not offensive in a strategic sense. we're not interested in capturing more territory or something like that. our goal is to protect our people, our civilians. just a few days ago i was in the south of israel in the city of
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ashkelon with the prime minister, benjamin netanyahu. we met a high schooler, a 12th grader. she said something to us that stuck in my mind. she said, all around the world, when children hear a bell at a school that means the school is starting or a lesson is ending. in southern israel, school children when they hear a bell or a siren, that means a missile launched from gaza is about to land and explode and they have about 15 seconds to run to a bomb shelter. no one should have to grow up that way. what we're trying to do here is make a new situation where people in southern israel no longer have to live in constant fear of an incoming hamas rocket. >> well, you make a very sobering and good point right there on behalf of that girl. how about this? we know what's happened with the arab league. they're holding emergency talks in cairo. what role can egypt play, and what do you think the chances for a truce? >> we're interested in a real
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solution and not in a band-aid solution. if we get quiet tomorrow but a week from now, a month from now we just get more rockets on our civilian population that's not an option. we don't want a quick fix that doesn't really work. we're interested in bringing about sustained, permanent, quiet and peace to our people in the south. we think that's actually in the interests of the people of gaza as well. and the problem is hamas, which are very extreme and very violent. just last night they shot a missile at jerusalem. i mean, that is something that hasn't been done. and jerusalem, when the sirens go off those sirens go off in arab neighborhoods and jewish neighborhoods. in the end, the missile overshot jerusalem, landed in the west bank. they could have killed palestinians. but they don't care. hamas has no respect for common human decency. that's who they are. it's very important. what we're doing now is to disarm them. >> all right. mark regev, i want to thank you for your time in this troubling time right now. i appreciate it.
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you're a very busy man. we'll speak with you again. coming up, in our next hour here on msnbc, we'll speak with a senior fellow at the savan center for middle east policy at the brookings institution. also coming up, a new gallup poll on what americans now think of their commander in chief and the man he just defeated. plus late word from the white house on new efforts to avoid the fiscal cliff. our political panel weighs in on the chances of a compromise before it's too late. you're watching "weekends with alex witt." try running four.ning a restaurant is hard, fortunately we've got ink. it gives us 5x the rewards on our internet, phone charges and cable, plus at office supply stores.
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more americans think better
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of president obama now that the election is over in a new gallup poll, 58% give the president a favorable rating, up three points since the election highest in three years. mitt romney has seen his favorable ratings going up from 46 to 50%. the white house says president obama will meet again with congressional leaders about the fiscal cliff the week after thanksgiving. the news comes after friday's meeting where both sides expressed confidence a deal can be reached. and the president is following up today in his weekly address. >> the other path is for congress to pass a law right away to prevent a tax hike on the first $250,000 of anyone's income. that means all americans, including the wealthiest americans, get a tax cut. we shouldn't hold the middle class hostage while congress debates tax cuts for the wealthy. let's begin our work by actually doing what we all agree on. let's keep taxes low for the middle class. >> republican senator kelly ayott from new hampshire delivered the republican response.
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>> one thing is clear. doing nothing is not an option. and any efforts to address our fiscal crisis without including entitlement reform can't be taken seriously. >> joining me now, contributor editor for "newsweek" and the daily beast eleanor clift and editor in chief for the nationalist hotline reid wilson both of whom we take seriously. good to see you both. eleanor, how long of a deal rather road is it to cutting a deal? the gop wants to cap tax deductions. the white house wants a tax hike on the wealthy. where are they going to meet? >> well, i think each side is leaving some verbal room. the president talks about wanting more revenue from the rich. he doesn't necessarily say thought has to be higher tax rates. and the republicans are not really putting their opposition to taxes out front, because i don't think they want to fall on their sword protecting the deductions of the top class.
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and so everybody's sounding reasonable. and they've been down this road several times already. i'm sure there must be packages of plans on shelves somewhere on capitol hill and in the white house. they need to get the folks working in the back room to put the specifics together. and i think these broad meetings are mostly just for our consumption, to show that they actually see each other and they're getting along and to make everybody feel better. but the hard work is going to go on in the back rooms when they actually put the plan together. and it's arithmetic remember from the convention. >> how much social security or medicare reform do you think is actually on the table? how much do you think the president and democrats are willing to consider? >> i think those are two different questions. how much the president is willing to consider and how much the congress, democrats in congress are willing to consider. i don't think they necessarily dovetail. a lot of republicans suggested that if president obama were elected to a second term, he would become the radical liberal left wing that everybody
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suspects. a lot of democrats really secretly fear that he would actually move farther to the right, farther to the middle that he wouldn't need his base as much and he's more interested in serving some kind of grand bargain with john boehner than he would be in running the table on the liberal agenda. so there are some democrats who are secretly a little nervous that the white house is going to cave on some entitlement reforms. by the way, take a listen to just that little segment you played from the weekly address where he talks about a tax cut for all americans, including the wealthiest, on that first $250,000 of income. that is not what the president has been saying over the last year or so. he's been saying a tax cut for 98% of americans. now of course, the way the deal is structured, 100% of americans would get a tax cut. we just haven't heard that language. so both sides are inching towards the middle with some of their language here. >> do we have a sense, eleanor, of where those entitlement reforms lie? like what they would finally look at? >> well, the raising the
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retirement age has been introduced. i think that's very difficult. you have a number of progressive senators, notably sherrod brown of ohio have said that's absolutely a non-starter for him. maybe you could structure something way out in the future. but social security really isn't the big problem. and i think that could be fixed relatively easily. it's controlling the costs of medicare. and pulling back on some of the benefits. and i do think the president is going to make a deal that his base will not like, but the republicans have to do the same thing. it's not going to be a real compromise unless there are people who are angry on both sides. >> good point. hey, reid, are we going to get any guarantees if we get $1 trillion in cuts in savings it goes to cutting the deficit and it isn't spent? >> no, of course not. there are no guarantees on any of this side. it's going to be fascinating to watch. by the way, the fiscal cliff is not just the sequester and the bush tax cuts. we also have to add in the
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alternative minimum tax, which john boehner has brought up that we haven't even dealt with the usual amt fix this year. we've also got the debt ceiling which we're going to reach sometime by the end of the year but then treasury department can restructure things so that we don't actually hit the debt ceiling until sometime in february. so boehner's going to ask for cuts to go along with debt ceiling increases as well. so this is a multi-headed beast if you will, an hydra that's waiting to be solved. it they don't have a lot of time. i think we're down to 12 or 13 legislative days before the end of the year. so there you go. let's -- a grand bargain in that short of time probably isn't going to take place. i think we can expect them to punt on pretty much all these things. >> can i ask you guys quickly about the testimony of former cia director general david petraeus as he appeared this week, yesterday. with regard to the testimony he talked about the benghazi attack. the answers he gave did not seem
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so sit well with the gop. but each side spinning exactly what he said to suit their interpretations. should the gop, though, lay to rest all of their complaints at this point? reid, you first. >> i don't think they're going to lay anything to rest. >> but should they based on what he said? this is the guy who was in charge. >> and i think that there are probably more things that peter king and the republicans on the senate committee are going to want to hear. >> okay. eleanor? >> david petraeus was their candidate. they wanted -- the republicans wanted him to run for president. they're going to defend him but they're going to somehow find a wedge between whatever david petraeus says and what susan rice said and the administration. they've got their teeth in. this and i don't think they're going to let go. no answer will satisfy them. but i think they go after it at their peril. i really don't think the country wants a partisan investigation of benghazi. i think they want the economy fixed. and so i think it's a fool's errand for the gop. >> okay, eleanor clift and reid
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wilson, good to see you both. thanks so much. >> thanks, alex. still ahead the twinkie disappearing act across america. will we ever get another taste of that legendary tweet? plus it's a tweet of a picture from the white house. the president sharing a frown with a special visitor. you're watching "weekends with alex witt." [ male announcer ] wouldn't it be cool if you could combine the capability of a pathfinder with the comfort of a sedan and create a next-gen s.u.v. with best-in-class fuel economy of 26 miles per gallon, highway, and best-in-class passenger roominess? yeah, that would be cool. introducing the all-new nissan pathfinder. it's our most innovative pathfinder ever. nissan. innovation that excites. ♪ wanted to provide better employee benefits
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weather labor strikes as we've seen this week. 18,500. that is the take away number here. that is the number of jobs that the company is looking to shed as early as tuesday if bankruptcy court will allow it. the company has been saddled with debt. it filed bankruptcy earlier this year, second time in a decade. it hasn't been doing so well. this labor strike apparently was the last nail in the financial coffin. we're going to see this company probably liquidate and try to sell assets. whether the brands will make it back onto store shelves i'm not so sure. in the meantime you might want to run out and stock up. that's what americans are doing. >> they are making a run. our floor director is looking at a monitor. there's like $75 for a box of ten right now. let's talk about another labor dispute in an iconic company, walmart. the workers are planning to walk out on black friday. but walmart is taking legal action saying can't do it because that's going unlawfully disrupt business. can they do that? >> they have lodged a complaint as of thursday with the national labor relations board. they have a right to do this just the way the walmart workers have a right to do the same
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thing on their end. they have lojd about 20 complaints over the last two months on things like retaliation against union organization and unsafe working conditions. so there's two sides to this story. we're seeing about 1,000 protests expected to break out for black friday. whether these protests will happen remains on whether the nlrb actually comes out what decision before black friday. in the meantime if you're a walmart shopper i would expect long shopping lines. i'd also expect some protesters. >> okay. what about there is some good news to talk about because chrysler is planning to ad 1200 auto workers in michigan. do you think this indicates we've got an improving economy out there? >> i think it's very hopeful. i think there's two reasons to be a little bit excited about this. the first is chrysler as we remember a couple of years ago was one of the american auto companies to be bailed out. the company's been doing well. they've seen a major up tick in demand this year. the fact they're expanding i think indicates they are not just scraping by anymore but actually starting to flourish. i think the other interesting thing here we are seeing this
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expansion in ram, specifically in pickup trucks. demand for pickup trucks is up for the company about 20% year-over-year. this is actually also very closely tied to home constructions which we've seen up in the past four years. i think this is good for both retail and housing. >> thank you, appreciate it. let's go now to a tweet of a picture from the white house from a visit from gold medal winning olympics gymnastics team. the white house released this photo of president obama and michaela maroney. after that maroney tweeted "did i just not do the not impressed face wgz with the president? yep, you did. you're watching "weekends with alex witt." [ woman ] ring. ring.
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100 calories... some people put everything intotheir name on the door, and their heart into their community. small business saturday is a day to show our support. a day to shop at stores owned by our friends and neighbors. and do our part for the businesses that do so much for us. on november 24th, let's get out and shop small. welcome back to "weekends with alex witt." it's 32 past the hour. we have breaking news as the middle east crisis is escalating. president obama spoke with israeli prime minister netanyahu today urging for a deescalation
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in the violence. the president also spoke with the egyptian president and turkish prime minister today. meanwhile israel's iron dome intercepted one rocket launched from the gaza area. a second one landed in an open area near tel aviv. overnight israeli forces destroyed the hamas prime minister's office just a couple hours ago the white house held a briefing on the fiscal cliff giving new information on how the obama administration hopes to work with congress and avoid the looming crisis. mike viqueira is at the white house on this subject. you've been a busy guy today. i know you listened in on this briefing on the fiscal cliff by the administration. what did you hear, mike? >> reporter: the question is there going to be some two-step or two-tier process to avoid this fiscal cliff. most people are aware now of what we're talking about here. a potential economic catastrophe when tax rates go up a combined $500 billion, half a trillion dollars on american families and spending is cut by about $100 billion next year.
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people are talking about another recession, slower growth, unemployment going up more than a percentage point. how do you approach it? do you take care of what needs to be taken care of now? there are a number of expiring tax breaks as we know from the bush era. we know the battle lines are drawn on the wealthiest -- across the wealthiest americans, that line drawn at $250,000 for a couple and above. the president wants to let those rates rise back up to where they were. jay carney again from the airplane, we heard it here in the briefing room aboard air force one said once again the president will not sign any legislation that does not allow those rates to rise again or keeps the rates the same. so we had that meeting yesterday at the white house. it's clear the republicans want to have that two-tier process. they want to delay the second half of that. this is the big enchilada. tax reform, entitlement reform. things that are very sensitive politically to both parties. they want to delay that well into next year. meanwhile the democrats are talking about compressing this process. they say we don't want to kick the can down the road.
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incidentally, democrats really feel as though they have the political upper hand here. i think most people would agree they do. they want to strike now while the iron is hot. alex? >> okay. thank you very much from the white house. what would happen if we actually went over the fiscal cliff? joining me with answers now "washington post" economics columnist neil irwin. so all this talk of capping tax deductions and raising taxes on the wealthy, how much might any of this actually help the national debt? >> you know, these are things that would certainly change the pathway and make the medium term finances look a little better. they're not game changers. we're running at about 7% of gdp and the government spends more than it takes in more tax revenue will change that but it's still a very slow trajectory toward something closer to a balanced budget. >> okay. waste it looking like? 60 trillion there on the debt clock? look at that. that's pretty crazy. >> that's a lot of money. >> a lot of money. we just talked to mike viqueira there. he was mentioning a two-tier
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process. a stopgap measure that avoids damage to the economy. or does that also hurt? does this economy need a long-term solution? >> having this thing hang over the economy, hang over the markets for the next couple of months, that's not welcome. that's bad for business decisionmakers if you're a company trying to decide whether to hire, whether to build a new plant, something like that. that's something that weighs on you. and having that uncertainty loom out there isn't good. that said, it beats going off the cliff. it beats having a situation where there's these massive tax increases on everybody, where there's dramatic spending cuts on defense and other things. if that were to all happen at once, even for a few weeks, i think it would be very damaging to the u.s. economy. very likely a recession. >> even if it's just a couple of weeks? even if we get this out in january, they fix it up back from holiday break and get done by february 1st you think the damage would be done? >> i think there'll be damage for a few weeks. it might not be a recession if it's a few weeks but you could imagine a situation where companies are sitting there trying to make their plans for 200013. am i going to add these workers, do i think the demand will be
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there. suddenly there's this graeat murky world is my tax rate 35% or 40%? what's the capital gains tax? if you're a defense contractor you're looking at maybe not getting paid for your work. that's a huge cloud of uncertainty hanging over businesses as they're trying to figure out what's going to happen in 2013. having a kind of crisp resolution would be pretty welcome. >> so capping tax deductions, how much money can they actually generate from that angle of things? >> that depends on whether they're willing to cap deductions at a low level that eliminates the effectiveness of some of the things people love. the home mortgage deduction, the charitable deduction. those are things that americans really value. if they cap it high enough, much deduckses you can take, that allows you to still have a lot of the advantages of home mortgage and charitable deduction and others. if they cap it lower you get pretty substantial revenue for the government, but it also means suddenly you're not getting as much advantage for having a mortgage or education, giving money to charity, that sort of thing. it's all a question of the money has to come from somewhere.
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is it going to be the high or low? >> zdoes it come from the middl class if they cap it too low? >> it could much this is an idea that mitt romney put out during the election. it's actually something that is an interesting frame work for finding a way to do tax reform that eliminates all these deductions they're called tax expenditures without totally changing the frame work of tax rates. it's certainly going to be one of these frontiers of the very complicated negotiations going forward. >> give me your best estimate. this will all get resolved before january 2nd. >> i think it does. >> long term deal or short term? >> medium -- short term deal that gets us through -- it's not a long term path towards deficit reduction. what it is is something that the president can say i got the higher tax rates for the pre-bush tax rates for the upper income groups but avoids the sequester, avoids all the defense cuts. >> okay. as always good to see you, neil irwin from the "washington post," thank you. let's get a quick check on what's coming up at the top of
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the hour with mara. >> we'll continue to follow the developing situation in the middle east with live reports from t from tel aviv and gaza. scandal among the america's top generals. keep it right here on msnbc for the next three hours. >> we'll see you then. it is time for a look at this hour's fast five headlines. president obama is on his way to thailand, first stop on his trip to southeast asia. in egypt a horrific scene after a train struck a bus carrying kindergarten students. at least 49 children are dead, 18 others hurt. back here at the home side here, the coast guard is searching by air and by sea for two oil rig workers after yesterday's explosion. fire on a platform in the gulf of mexico. a 20-year-old missouri man is facing charges for admitted plot to go on a shooting spree in a theater showing the new "twilight" movie. the man's mother contacted detectives after she discovered weapons like used in the
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colorado massacre. mike ditka says he feels pretty good right now after suffering what his doctors are calling a minor stroke. the benghazi investigation. has yesterday's hearing convinced republicans to lay off? you're watching "weekends with alex witt." that make me smile. spending the day with my niece. i don't use super poligrip for hold because my dentures fit well. before those little pieces would get in between my dentures and my gum and it was uncomfortable. even well-fitting dentures let in food particles. super poligrip is zinc free. with just a few dabs, it's clinically proven to seal out more food particles so you're more comfortable and confident while you eat. so it's not about keeping my dentures in, it's about keeping the food particles out. [ charlie ] try zinc free super poligrip.
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that are soft and more absorbent. plus you can use four times less versus the leading value brand. don't worry, there's plenty left for you dad. we all go. why not enjoy the go with charmin ultra soft? the name of marco rubio often comes up in political circles about the presidential race four years from now. today the florida senator and new head of the republican governor es association will be in iowa to attend a fundraiser for governor terry brandstead. he said don't read anything into it. he made plans for the trip thinking mitt romney would be the president elect. in today's topics, benghazi questions, blame game, and best week worst week. let's bring in the big three panel. republican strategist, democratic strategist and
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political reporter. good to see you all. let's get to susan first with our first topic. the benghazi question. are republicans in a state of denial, susan? because their suggestions of a benghazi coverup didn't work during the election. how far do you think they're going to take this? >> i don't think it's about being in denial. there are some real facts. they just had a -- finished up their hearing on friday. when you have the chairman of homeland security saying there's still many more questions to be asked and answered, then that's not the case. however, trying to make it political is problematic for the republicans. they should not hang on this. there's a lot of other things they need to work on. they should have their questions answered. it still does require further review. again they've got to take some of the partisan bite out of this. >> so how do you feel about john mccain saying he thinks there should be a special counsel appointed for this, susan? >> senator mccain certainly is much more of a foreign policy expert than i am. but that being said, i don't think he would do it unless he
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really felt there were some things that needed to be answered for, that he has real concerns, he's proven his duty to his country. he knows these issues. if he's not getting his questions answered then there's something wrong. >> okay. so perry, are there any legitimate concerns that these gop lawmakers have brought up with respect to whether the benghazi terror information was held back for national security reasons? >> i think the concern they brought up legitimate is like what exactly happened security-wise at the consulate there? how do you fix that? how do you make sure it doesn't happen again? mccain and graham have made those cases which also diane feinstein and democrats have as well. those are legitimate questions. as susan said i'm not sure like the focus on what susan rice said exactly when is helpful to this discussion. i think you'll see the republicans focus more on what actually happened and how to prevent that and less on politicizing it as we go forward. >> speaking of politics, the president really going to bat for susan rice in his press conference in terms of
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supporting what could be her nomination to take hillary clinton's place as secretary of state. is this a fight that you think is worth it from what you know about her tenure there at the u.n. and elsewhere? >> i didn't seat president as really -- it was a defense of susan rice but i thought it was more the president of saying i want a second term. i'll pick who i want to for my cabinet thank you. susan rice may get picked. but if not the president was sort of drawing a line and saying the republicans don't get to veto someone i want before i even start deciding myself. >> okay. back to benghazi, morris, what further does the white house oat gop lawmakers and the public on this matter in terms of explanation and proof? >> well, anytime that there is an american who loses his life or an american installation is attacked we need to be clear, frank and precise about what's going on. that's what the white house wants. that's what the white house owes to the american public and also the families of our heroes who died. i think it was very clear that
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the president was defending susan rice who is a very capable, well-informed, diplomat, who's very seasoned and knows what she's doing. she wouldn't get out there on a limb without having the proper information in front of her. so i wanted to be clear about that. i think he was defending susan rice. and i also think that the republicans thought that they found some type of political flesh to pound upon, particularly those senators. there should be shame on them for accusing someone as distinguished as susan rice as doing such effect. so i think they thought they had a political football and clearly after the testimony it was clear that all the information wasn't given to her and she only spoke on the talking points that were prepared and cleared by the cia. >> do you think the bigger question is why was she put out there five days if they weren't going to be honest with the american public? they knew they were misleading the american public when they gave her those talking points, even if they were the -- i understand the unclassified talking points. but don't use them at all. don't have her sell it and basically mislead us and then
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cause all the -- especially when they knew that was the case. that's what caused all the problems. >> well listen, susan, i respect susan's remarks. she's always very clear and very measured. she is never political and partisan. but i have to tell you, that's a question that should be directed to the cia, not to susan rice. she was doing what she was told to do. those were remarks prepared for her. as the cia said they didn't want to give up their sources. that's why they only put that much information out there. >> that's what the administration needs to still answer for. >> and morris, do you think the president goes ahead and gives her the nod as his choice to replace hillary clinton, concerning what you said the gop many of them are looking for a pound to flesh there? >> listen, susan rice is a capable diplomat. if the president decides to elevate her to be secretary of state, i and others will applaud him. and i think the republicans need to be very clear the reasons that they lost is because they couldn't communicate with women and they couldn't communicate with minorities. this is a qualified woman that if the president chooses to put her forth they need to respect his wishes. >> okay. let's move to our next topic.
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we'll begin with you, susan. the blame game. audio surfaced this week of mitt romney talking during a campaign call with donors following his election loss. you might not want to but let's listen. >> what the president, what the president's campaign did was focus on certain members of his base coalition, give them extraordinary financial gifts from the government, and then work very aggressively to turn them out to vote. >> yeah. we've got some republicans running like we've seen bolt from all of this. and from the remnants of the campaign. why did mr. romney feel that he needed to make another one of these 47%-like comments, susan? any idea? >> i have no idea. i don't think anyone has any idea. especially after so close to losing. >> after the 47% fiasco. >> you usually don't have this kind of conversation. you usually decompress and then you can have a little more perspective. i have no idea what he was doing having this conversation to begin with. secondly, it was just a ridiculous thing to say.
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and you don't basically send out a message saying that the voters are wrong and that they made their mistakes. i mean, that's just crazy. >> that's crazy. >> perry, these comments a surprise at this point or were they as you would expect? >> i was a little surprised. frankly, i thought the 47% remark was a gaffe and wasn't sure they were his views opposed to what he tells donors. now he confirmed to me that he thinks people vote for president obama because he's giving them stuff. it's weird argument. obama won the youth vote and hispanic vote in 2004 before he gave them stuff, too. a weird argument and technologies me mitt romney's future was going to be weird anyway and you saw bobby-in dal -- bobby jindal attack him and his future is done. >> do you think they will try to
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appeal to a more broad base of americans? >> i think the gop has an opportunity to appeal to a broad base of americans. i learned from my mentor, ron brown things are never eded ass you think and as good when you're on top. he made the 47% when he was with those who knew him and when he lost, he did it again. you can lose and be dignified. the president showed him how to handle it. the republican party still can't connect with minorities. democrats can't spike the football. they can't connect to minorities under 40 more interested in making money than handouts. mitt romney made a wonderful job of his concession speech the night of the election. >> you say certain things in public. what you say in private tends to reflect your real feelings. >> you have to learn there is no private anymore. there just isn't in that size
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group. >> all right. sit tight. the best and worst of the week. into their work, their name on the door, and their heart into their community. small business saturday is a day to show our support. a day to shop at stores owned by our friends and neighbors. and do our part for the businesses that do so much for us. on november 24th, let's get out and shop small.
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and there's a beautiful look at the capitol building in d.c. let's get back to the best week worst week. ladies first, susan, who's your best and worst this week? >> the worst goes to mitt romney for everything we covered in the previous segment. on top of it, he gave such a great concession speech and then to have these comments roll out makes him look really bitter and frankly, a little disappointing for the republican party. on a brighter note, i think chris christie had the best week, not just because he actually gave very measured remarks about what mitt romney said but also he came out with the teacher's union, randy weingartner to come out with a great deal with merit pay for the union teachers.
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it happened in newark, which is cory booker's hometown, home base. that definitely has him looking very good towards 2013. >> morris, yours? >> i thought the best week went to the gang that went to see the president about the fiscal cliff. i thought the speaker, majority leader, nancy pell locy and senator reed started off on a good thing and that was very encouraging and i think we will definitely get this done by the deadline. my worst week went to senator graham and senator mccain in the way they got out front attacking ambassador susan rice. i don't think this is a fight they want to take on. >> perry, how about yours? best and worst. >> mitt romney for all the reasons we talked about. that comment meant he has no future as leader of the republican party even if he could have, probably didn't before and really not now. obama on wednesday tells me susan rice as secretary of state and national security advisor will have some big role in the
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second term. >> thanks so much. good to see y'all. have a great thanksgiving. happy thanksgiving. all of it to you. thank you. that is a wrap up of weekends with alex. i'll see you right back here tomorrow at noon eastern. and our coverage continues is just a moment. i'm alex witt. have yourselves a great day. res, try running four. fortunately we've got ink. it gives us 5x the rewards on our internet, phone charges and cable, plus at office supply stores. rewards we put right back into our business. this is the only thing we've ever wanted to do and ink helps us do it. make your mark with ink from chase.
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